When Connecticut men’s basketball star Donovan Clingan thinks of basketball and his mom, one particular story comes to mind.
He was in eighth grade playing travel basketball and his mom, Stacey Porrini Clingan, in the midst of cancer treatment, was in the stands. Donovan, a big man on the court even then and now 7-foot-3, was getting fouled continually throughout the game.
Stacey was an excellent player in her own time, enjoying stellar high school and collegiate careers at Bristol Central High School (Conn.) and the University of Maine, respectively, and recently inducted into the university’s Sports Hall of Fame. At 6-foot-4, she was a great athlete. She held the rebounding record at Bristol Central for years, until Donovan came along.
But, at that game in Donovan’s eighth grade year, Stacey was sure to let the referees know they were missing calls. She was standing up for her son.
“The refs weren’t making any calls and she actually ended up getting ejected out of the game from the stands,” Donovan said while smiling. “And that just showed you how much she cared about me.”
Basketball was their thing. And now, in her absence, it’s a way for him to stay connected to her.
Stacey was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2010 when Donovan was around six years old. She fought for a few years before the cancer went into remission. Donovan was young and didn’t fully see what was going on, but he knew his mom beat cancer, had started teaching again and was back to normal.
Then, about five years later, the cancer came back and spread. This time, being a young teenager, Donovan witnessed what his mom was going through. It was a long battle of doctor’s appointments, hospital visits, treatments and more.